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Minimum requirements for HTPC

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March 31, 2010 12:08:12 PM

Hi all,


To date, i've been using my PC for streaming media, downloading/viewing from itunes etc to my HDTV. I'm looking to build a dedicated HTPC for a seperate TV in my house.

However, since i've always built a computer to maximize gaming performance, im not really sure what the requirements would be to make a good (but very cost effective -- ~$400CAD) HTPC.


Any insight? Are any of these small Ion CPU based units from acer etc worthwhile?

http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=49412&vpn=PT...

March 31, 2010 12:44:25 PM

Personally I hate those Atoms!
Here is my experience with Atom :
I have bought a netbook from samsung using atom N270 1GB RAM, XP Sp3. I tought it was powerful enough to do low profile works such as office and internet. I was attracted from the size of those netbooks. This could be a good traveling partner. I still have my dell with i7 but the small sized netbook could be put into some usage.
I was disappointed, the proc was already 100% loaded before I even got a chance to do anything, and the load came from pre-installed mcaffee. I have deinstalled it it was fine, but after using the netbook to write my internship report with lots of pictures.....it was F**CK**NG slow.
I tried to connect to the internet using a surf stick from vodafone...the netbook was already loaded about 80% because of the software from vodafone before the internet explorer even started.
I have sold the netbook on ebay.
No more Atom for me.
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March 31, 2010 1:02:25 PM

Agree on the Atom comments. They're just barely too slow for a fully effective HTPC.

You're best bet is either a dual core AMD with a 785G motherboard or an Intel i3 with a H55 motherboard. Shop around for deals.

$400 won't get you too far if you need to purchase a Windows license (or you could use mythbuntu for free). Do you have any parts you can reuse?

At this budget, it almost makes more sense to go with a prebuilt media tank like the WD TV Live HD or a popcorn hour.
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March 31, 2010 1:20:57 PM

Well, i shouldnt buy a htpc when you can also build one yourself.
An intel atom could be great for a cheap htpc, but 1.6Ghz single core isn't much...
1 Gb RAM should be enough for a htpc too.
The point: a graphics card. If you want to play high-definition (blu-ray for example) movies, you need a decent graphics card if you dont want your screen to "freeze".
A 160Gb harddisk is pretty small also. I should recommend 1Tb+, as movies take alot of hard disk space...
That acer you suggested is NOT able to play hd/blu-ray films.

some example of a htpc build:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Athenatech Black Aluminum Face Plate / Steel Chassis A3701BB ATX Media Center / HTPC Case - Retail
$71.99
^don't get a cheap plastic case. This is a really solid one. Perhaps you might want to pick a tower case too.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
AMD Athlon II X2 250 Regor 3.0GHz 2 x 1MB L2 Cache Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor - Retail
$64.99
^You dont multitask on a htpc, so dual core is fine. And 3Ghz is more then enough! And oh, its very energy efficient also :D 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Open Box: ASUS M4N68T-M AM3 NVIDIA Geforce 7025/nForce 630a Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
$36.99
^Just some cheap but decent motherboard. We dont need onboard graphics, and we wont need more then two memory lanes.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Crucial 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model CT2KIT12864BA1339 - Retail
$54.99

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
BIOSTAR VA4673NH51-B Radeon HD 4670 512MB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card - Retail
$62.99
^The BEST graphics card in its prize range

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail
$52.99
^NEVER buy cheap psu's

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Western Digital Caviar Blue WD10EALS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
$89.99
^1Tb hard drive for all your storage needs.

grand total: ~$435,-
You still need to add a dvd or blu-ray drive (add ~$25 for dvd and ~100 for blu-ray), and an os (i suggest ubuntu because its free).
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March 31, 2010 2:41:28 PM

Those Newegg links aren't really going to do the OP any good since he said he's from Canada. The prices are different between www.newegg.com and www.newegg.ca

I'll see what I can put together if I get a few minutes at work.

Edit: How flexible is your budget? Here's a nice HTPC for $500.

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Item... $187.99 (Intel Pentium G6950 Clarkdale 2.8GHz + GIGABYTE GA-H55M-S2H combo)

Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3500418AS 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682... $59.99

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10600CL9D-4GBNT - Retail
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682... $101.99

Antec Black M FusionRemote 350 Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case - Retail
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681... $149.99

Total - $499.96

You could drop the price a little by going with 2GB of RAM if you absolutely have to.

G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-8500CL7D-2GBNQ - Retail $66.49
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March 31, 2010 3:19:13 PM

Im sure that almost the same items are from sale on newegg.com and newegg.ca. Just search for the items I posted on newegg.ca.

Nice build shortstuff, but wheres your graphics card?
A htpc w/o onboard graphics: ouch...

ps: its quite hard to put two cpu's inside a non-server-motherboard...
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March 31, 2010 3:31:19 PM

What are you talking about? Nearly all HTPC's use integrated graphics. HTPC's hardly take any graphics power at all.

I only have one CPU in my build. I just listed the CPU and motherboard by themselves and then listed the combo for the two. I edited it to make more sense.
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March 31, 2010 6:17:02 PM

Thanks for the replies gang.


I have an MSI p45 platinum and an E8400 I could reuse, problem is its not a micro atx motherboard.

Anyone able to recommend a HTPC case (preferably with an infared remote sensor) that would fit a larger mobo?

I don't know about the onboard graphics on my board, if I were looking at a video card to just cover off HDMI output and encoding where should I look?
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March 31, 2010 7:03:43 PM

P45 boards don't have onboard graphics. Did you mean you have a G45 board?

This is a cheap GPU for a HTPC.

POWERCOLOR AX5450 512MK3-SH Radeon HD 5450 (Cedar) 512MB 64-bit DDR3 HDCP Ready Video Card - Retail $46.49

Here's a list of HTPC cases that can fit a full size ATX motherboard:

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=EN...

You'll want to get a quality PSU too, though. Here's a couple that would work great for a HTPC.

Antec EarthWatts Green EA-430D Green 430W 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply $79.99

Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply $69.99
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